Oooh, I think I see. Let me re-state what I think you're saying - tell me if this is correct:
When trying to reach maximum ability, you like the idea of levels because it's something you can directly control and increase with enough known effort. You can grind out enemies for experience, do quests, or whatever else moves the level meter forward.
On the other hand, you don't like this progression being moved forward by random means outside of your control. You're nearly max level, and you can grind out enemies, do quests, etc, but you don't progress unless the random-number gods decide to hand you an item with better stats.
Does that sound right?
Surely, with levels, I would expect that once you reach max-level, you still have work ahead of you, to obtain better and better gear, which does 'progress' you along, but not in the same way levels do?